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Full text of "My Country And My People"

THE    ART    OF    LIVING                       313

apparently blind alley leads suddenly into an open space and
the kitchen leads through a backdoor into an unexpected
courtyard. This is to provide for the real in the unreal. Let
a door lead into a blind courtyard and conceal the view by
placing a few bamboo trees and a few rocks. Thus you
suggest something which is not there. Place low balustrades
along the top of a wall so as to suggest a roof garden which
does not exist. This is to provide for the unreal in the real.
Poor scholars who live in crowded houses should follow the
method of the boatmen in our native district who make
clever arrangements with their limited space on the bows of
their boats, making certain modifications. . . . When my
wife and I were staying at Yangchow, we lived in a house
of only two rooms, but (by such arrangements) the two bed-
rooms, the kitchen and the parlour were all arranged with an
exquisite effect, and we did not feel the cramping of space.
Yiin once said laughingly to me, "The arrangements are
exquisite enough, but, after all, it lacks the atmosphere of
a rich man's house." It was so indeed.

Let us follow for a while these two guileless creatures, a
poor Chinese scholar and his artistic wife, and see how they
try to squeeze the last drop of happiness from a poor and sorrow-
laden life, always fearful of the jealousy of the gods and afraid
that their happiness may not last.

Once I visited my ancestral tombs on a hill and found some
pebbles of great beauty with faint tracings on them. On
coming back I talked it over with Yiin, and said: "People
mix putty with Hsiianchow stones in white stone basins
because the colours of the two elements blend. The yellow
pebbles of this hill, however, are different, and although they
are very elegant, they will not blend in colour with putty.
What can we do?" "Take some of the worse quality," said
she, "and pound them into small pieces and mix them in the
putty before it is dry, and perhaps when it is dry it will be of
the same colour**1 So we did as she suggested, and used a
rectangular Yihsing earthen pot, over which we piled up a
mountain peak on the left, corning down in undulations to